“Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker” trailer breakdown…

****STAR DESTROYER-SIZED SPOILERS AHEAD!****

The Final Trailer.

Clues/Observations.

The captions to the following screenshots are my own speculations, and should be treated with no more authority or insight than anyone else’s. I’m just a fellow Star Wars fan, and have been since I saw the original “Star Wars” (sans “New Hope”) back in 1977 at age 10. Being wrong is always an option (and can be very exciting at times, too). If you have corrections or other observations/insights, please feel free to share them in the comments below. I always welcome and value reader opinions. Enjoy the screenshots.

Rey (Daisy Ridley) running loose on a forest planet… perhaps another part of the forest moon of Endor (“Return of the Jedi”)? The rebel helmet on the ground sure familiar…

Rey jumping and climbing along the wreckage of….an Imperial something (the destroyed 2nd Death Star, perhaps?). This is an obvious echo of our introductory scene to Rey in “The Force Awakens”, where we see her eking out a harsh existence on Jaku by scavenging scrap from old Imperial hulks for food. This time she seems a lot more purposeful. If this is truly wreckage of Death Star 2, then it foreshadows later bits seen in the trailer. Always good to see Daisy Ridley in action again. Hope to hear variations of the “Rey theme” as well; it’s one of the more memorable bits of music of this new Star Wars trilogy (composer John Williams is a world treasure… the 1977 double-LP soundtrack of “Star Wars” is the very first soundtrack I ever bought at the tender age of 11).

Finn (John Boyega) returns. Finn was, in my opinion, a promising character who was poorly served in 2017’s “The Last Jedi”. He is on the desert planet seen in the first trailer for “Rise of Skywalker” Is it Jaku? Or Tatooine? My money’s on Jaku…

Finn, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) appear to be on the same planet where we saw Rey running earlier. I still think it could be another part of the moon of Endor from “Return of the Jedi.” There’s no reason why the Earth-like moon can’t have forests and jungles; much like the biodiverse ecosphere of our own world. We always tend to see mono-climate worlds in Star Wars (ice worlds, desert worlds, etc). Maybe we’re finally seeing planets more like our own? Just a guess (and quite possibly wrong, I’m sure…).

Looks like Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) in the middle of that crowd gathered around the landing struts of a large spacecraft. Doesn’t look like the Millennium Falcon to me, but maybe it’s Lando’s new ride (?). I also noticed the character is back to wearing the gold color tunics his younger self (nicely played by Donald Glover) wore in “Solo.”

Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) from “The Last Jedi” returns. Looks like actors Dominic Monaghan (“Lord of the Rings” “Lost”) and Billie Lourd (the late Carrie Fisher’s daughter, and costar of “American Horror Story” & “Scream Queens”) standing behind her as well. Lourd, of course, also played Lieutenant Connix in “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi.” Personally I am glad to see Rose return. Like Finn, I feel the Rose character has great potential, but was somewhat poorly used in the latter half of “The Last Jedi.” One of director JJ Abrams’ greatest strengths is with characters, so here’s hoping his return to the franchise can right some of the missteps that were taken in “The Last Jedi.”

A vessel of the same class as the original 1977 Star Wars’ Tantive IV (aka the “Rebel blockade runner”) grazing some treetops during what appears to be an emergency landing on the same jungle planet where we saw Rey, Poe, Finn and Chewbacca. Not sure if the ship is there by accident or not, but either way that landing appears to be a little rough…

The partially submerged wreckage of what appears to be a rusted old weapons platform; could this be the remains of the 2nd Death Star, crashed in the stormy oceans of Endor, or is it somewhere (and something) else entirely? Given JJ Abrams’ fondness for recalling familiar Star Wars beats and elements in “The Force Awakens”, I wouldn’t be surprised if this rusted wreck is something significant from the original trilogy…

Rey stands on the rusted rain-soaked wreckage of whatever-it-is, lightsaber drawn…

… to face her adversary Kylo Ren, aka Ben Solo (Adam Driver) from the previous two movies in this newer trilogy. His facial scars appear to be somewhat healed, but he still looks like he’s carrying a bit of a grudge. Unlike some, I very much enjoyed the character (and performance) of Driver’s Kylo Ren. Driver brings a vulnerability and unpredictability to the character that I find both exciting and compelling. He’s more than a one-dimensional black hat heavy. Now, as the new leader of the First Order (the self-promotion at the end of “The Last Jedi”), his internal conflict will have even broader ramifications to the galaxy at large…

Echoing Obi Wan and Anakin’s duel over seas of lava in “Revenge of the Sith”, Rey and Ren duel it out over raging seas of…water. Something tells me this isn’t the ‘final duel’ of the movie, either. Given the clues dropped in “The Last Jedi”, I’m guessing the movie will end with some kind of a ‘merger’ between the light and dark sides of the Force into one unified Force… a Force that doesn’t deal in absolutes (as both the Sith and Jedi have both done for centuries). This potential unified Force could also better reflect the moral ambiguity we see in our own world, which is neither all good nor all evil.

Looks like the dilapidated throne of the late and possibly resurrected Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). Given that the first trailer ended with his classic cackling laugh, it’s no surprise or spoiler that the wily Palpatine returns in some form, either via force-ghost or a more corporeal clone. Maybe Palpatine’s force-ghost wills itself into being born again, just as he manipulated the Force to impregnate Shmi Skywalker and bring Anakin into existence….

A large wing of First Order (almost said Imperial) TIE fighters head off toward a jagged, icy asteroid. Have no idea what this represents… possibly a hidden First Order base? Who knows. Great image though.

The Millennium Falcon (with all-new, retro-round sensor dish) leads a ginormous fleet of friendlies. A friend of mine pointed out that one of the ships is the Ghost from “Star Wars Rebels” (a very underrated wing of the Star Wars franchise). I’m assuming this fleet has been gathered from all over the galaxy in a last ditch effort to decisively overthrow the First Order…

Chewbacca and Rey pilot the Falcon, with Finn and Poe entering the cramped cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. Just that little look between Rey and Chewie speaks volumes to the closeness these characters now feel for each other. Once again, JJ Abrams is very skilled in drawing maximum warmth from his characters, especially in little moments.

An unknown type of craft flies over the raging seas of our as-yet-unconfirmed planet of interest.

Poe, BB-8, Rey and Finn watch as C3PO (Star Wars staple Anthony Daniels) takes “one last look” at his friends before a diminutive technician prepares to do some sort of radical brain surgery on the long-lived protocol droid. I’m guessing that he is preparing to sacrifice himself much in the way that Lando’s beloved L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) was killed and then incorporated (or slaved) into the navigational computer of the Millennium Falcon.

Of all the bits seen in this new trailer, the C3PO ‘goodbye’ moment really gave me the feels. Anthony Daniels’ C3PO has appeared in all three main live-action Star Wars trilogies, the “Rogue One” standalone film, the 1978 CBS Holiday Special, and animated series (“Droids” “Rebels” “Clone Wars”), TV guest roles, and even the NPR Star Wars Radio Plays of the early 1980s and mid-1990s. He’s been the single most steadfast element of the Star Wars brand name for nearly five decades now. His loss (if this is truly the character’s exit) will be a profound one for the Star Wars universe. C3PO may have been a gold-plated pain in the ass at times, but we love him all the same.

Nice to see R2-D2 doing his two-legged stomp again. While actor Kenny Baker is no longer with us, it’s good to see R2 exhibiting some of Baker’s trademarked moves, in what will surely be C3PO’s very emotional exit.

Some very typical Star Wars-y action in what looks like a First Order stronghold (possibly a base on that icy asteroid we saw earlier), as Poe, Chewie and Finn charge at some stormtroopers.

The return of the late Carrie Fisher.
Abrams has said that he took deleted/alternate takes from “The Force Awakens” which were then grafted into this film in order to smooth over the sudden and tragic loss of Carrie Fisher (1956-2016). Fisher’s Leia (Princess or General) was supposed to have played a much greater role in this final episode of this trilogy, but I’m guessing that role has been radically reduced in order to incorporate whatever remaining footage of her that was usable. From the looks of it, this appears to be an unused take from “The Force Awakens” digitally merged with the aforementioned jungle planet’s background. Abrams has said in interviews that he did not use a digital double for Fisher (like “Rogue One” with both Fisher and Peter Cushing). That the filmmakers were able to make Fisher come back at all, three years after her passing, is nothing short of an editing miracle. That said, I still think that “The Last Jedi” offered a perfect exit opportunity for the character; Leia could’ve been the one hyperspace-jumping the Resistance command ship directly into the First Order fleet (instead of Laura Dern’s Admiral Holdo), thus sacrificing herself for the greater good. With a bit of editing, it could’ve worked. At any rate, it’s nice to have the late Fisher back one last time, so I’m not complaining.

Finn, Poe and even C3PO whoop it up over a victory of some kind.

Billy Dee Williams’ Lando is back in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, with Chewbacca at his side. Williams, as my wife noted, looks pretty damn spry for an octogenarian. I actually met Williams at Star Wars Celebration convention in Anaheim four years ago, and he looked terrific in person as well. I’m assuming Lando’s been handed the keys to his old ship while Rey (whom we saw flying it earlier) is busy working things out with Kylo Ren.

Old style Y-wing fighters take on a First Order armada of star destroyers. The Y-wings were first seen in 1977’s original “Star Wars” (I despise the retroactively added title of “A New Hope”).

Characters riding on beasts of burden on the outer hull of a First Order star destroyer. I’m assuming those star destroyers are operating within the atmosphere and gravity well of a planet, or all of those Resistance riders would be dead as fried chicken from exposure to the vacuum of space…

In what appears to be a followup to the liberation of the racing animals seen on Canto Bight in “The Last Jedi”, Resistance fighters ride along the hull of the aforementioned First Order star destroyers. This low-tech vs. high-tech approach is very true to George Lucas’ original vision of Star Wars, in which he imagined the Rebels as scrappy, poorly resourced guerrilla fighters taking on a fortified Empire in a very loose analogy of the Vietnam War. The Ewoks of “Return of the Jedi” reinforced Lucas’ original vision by depicting a primitive, tree-dwelling culture overthrowing the might of a heavily-armed invasion force. I’m guessing these ’space horses’ are the new trilogy’s extension of Lucas’ original idea.

Inside what appears to be a glistening white First Order stronghold, Rey and Ren combine forces to destroy what looks vaguely like the remains of Darth Vader, but could also be something else entirely, of course. The gleaming white interiors remind me of the late Ralph McQuarrie’s original concept art for the planet Alderaan as a ‘floating Imperial stronghold’ (Alderaan was later reworked to be Leia’s home planet, and the stronghold later became the Death Star). That notion of a glistening, gleaming ‘city in the clouds’ was later repurposed for Lando’s Bespin mining colony in “The Empire Strikes Back.” The idea of Rey and Ren seemingly working together also reinforces my mind’s eye notion that this trilogy will end with some sort of reconciliation between the light and dark sides of the Force. This also ties in with the attraction seen between the two in “The Last Jedi” (Rey’s gawking at a shirtless Kylo Ren, Luke’s outrage over their long-distance Force communication, etc). Maybe love is what brings the two disparate sides of the Force together?

Rey, with lightsaber drawn (I’m assuming she built this one herself, since Vader/Luke’s hand-me-down was destroyed in “The Last Jedi”), confronting Kylo Ren in what looks very much like the remains of the Emperor Palpatine’s throne room chamber aboard the destroyed Death Star 2 in “Return of the Jedi.” Given the overcast skies visible outside, it’s safe to say the rusted hulks on which the two were dueling earlier were possibly bits of Death Star 2, partly submerged in Endor’s ocean. Again, I may be wrong on this, but it feels intuitively right somehow… bringing both original and new trilogies to definitive closure.

In an echoing of Luke in “Return of the Jedi”, Rey confronts the Emperor.
The elevated throne, hint of a cloak, and Ian McDiarmid’s voice make this a fairly safe bet.

Rey with her presumably rebuilt lightsaber.
While the title is “Rise of Skywalker”, I don’t think this is meant literally to mean that Rey herself is of Skywalker lineage (Luke had no heirs in Disney’s Star Wars universe, unlike the earlier Lucasfilm-sanctioned novels), nor do I think Luke Skywalker will somehow become corporeal again (though that is a possibility as well). I think that Skywalker might be a title now, like Jedi Knight or Sith Lord. Perhaps the Skywalker family name will be the label of a new generation of Force users who openly embrace the light and dark sides of the Force…taking the best elements of both. Just a thought…

Anyway, that’s my speculation for whatever it’s worth. Please share yours in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to answer quickly. Just FYI, I don’t respond to trolls (life’s too short for that), but comments, observations and honest critiques are always welcome.

Until December 20th, 2019. May the Force be with you.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. I know gaming’s not your thing, but the throne scene bears a striking visual similarity to the final scene of the Knights of the Eternal Throne expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic. This is interesting because that was also a final showdown with the spirit of a slain (but far from defeated) Sith Emperor.

    I’d like to be hyped for this movie, but I’ve not liked anything JJ Abrams has done to date, so that worries me. Also it feels like they’ve already given away the whole plot in the trailers. Rey and Kylo fight, they realize the Emperor is the bigger threat, they team up to bring him down, their alliance brings balance to the Force at last, roll credits.

    It’s not likely to matter for the average movie-goer, but inviting comparisons to Eternal Throne isn’t going to help matters where I’m concerned, either. SWTOR in general has much better story-telling than any of the movies, and Eternal Throne in particular is where it feels like they peaked, at least to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not quite as stoked as I imagined I would be. “The Last Jedi” took some wind out of my Star Wars sails, I have to admit (I say this as a lifelong SW fan since age 10), but “Rise of Skywalker” (based on this trailer) looks like it’ll do the job.

    I know how you feel about Abrams’ work, but I think he is a solid fit for the Star Wars franchise, as one of his strengths is mimicry; he can settle into other styles of filmmaking at the expense of his own voice, which is kind of a requirement for someone tackling a SW movie. The Star Wars movies aren’t (nor should they be) auteur-driven cinema….they’re mythology-driven roller coaster rides. They have a very specific flavor that is tampered with at the expense of potential box office.

    Abrams is savvy enough to understand that.

    Like

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